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Text of President Tinubu’s speech

Mr. President,
Heads of State and Government,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Mr. President,

  1. On behalf of the people of Nigeria, I
    congratulate you on your well-deserved election as
    President of this Session of the United Nations
    General Assembly.
  2. We commend your predecessor, His Excellency,
    Mr. Csaba Korosi (Cha-ba Kor-o-chi) for his able
    stewardship of the Assembly.
  3. We also commend His Excellency, Antonio
    Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations,
    for his work seeking to forge solutions to
    humanity’s common challenges.
  4. This is my first address before the General
    Assembly. Permit me to say a few words on behalf
    of Nigeria, on behalf of Africa, regarding this year’s
  5. Many proclamations have been made, yet our
    troubles remain close at hand. Failures in good
    governance have hindered Africa. But broken
    promises, unfair treatment and outright
    exploitation from abroad have also exacted a heavy
    toll on our ability to progress.
  6. Given this long history, if this year’s theme is to
    mean anything at all, it must mean something
    special and particular to Africa.
  7. In the aftermath of the Second World War,
    nations gathered in an attempt to rebuild their wartorn societies. A new global system was born and
    this great body, the United Nations, was
    established as a symbol and protector of the
    aspirations and finest ideals of humankind.
  8. Nations saw that it was in their own interests
    to help others exit the rubble and wasteland of war.
    Reliable and significant assistance allowed
    countries emaciated by war to grow into strong and
    productive societies.
  9. The period was a highwater mark for trust in
    global institutions and the belief that humanity had
    learned the necessary lessons to move forward in
    global solidarity and harmony.
  10. Today and for several decades, Africa has been
    asking for the same level of political commitment
    and devotion of resource that described the
    Marshall Plan.
  11. We realize that underlying conditions and
    causes of the economic challenges facing today’s
    Africa are significantly different from those of post
    war Europe.
  12. We are not asking for identical programs and
    actions. What we seek is an equally firm
    commitment to partnership. We seek enhanced
    international cooperation with African nations to
    achieve the 2030 agenda and Sustainable
    Development Goals.
  13. There are five important points I want to
  14. First, if this year’s theme is to have any impact
    at all, global institutions, other nations and their
    private sector actors must see African
    development as a priority, not just for Africa but in
    their interests as well.
  15. Due to both longstanding internal and external
    factors, Nigeria’s and Africa’s economic structures
    have been skewed to impede development,
    industrial expansion, job creation, and the
    equitable distribution of wealth.
  16. If Nigeria is to fulfil its duty to its people and
    the rest of Africa, we must create jobs and the
    belief in a better future for our people.
  17. We must also lead by example.
  18. To foster economic growth and investor
    confidence in Nigeria, I removed the costly and
    corrupt fuel subsidy while also discarding a noxious
    exchange rate system in my first days in office.
    Other growth and job oriented reforms are in the
  19. I am mindful of the transient hardship that
    reform can cause. However, it is necessary to go
    through this phase in order to establish a
    foundation for durable growth and investment to
    build the economy our people deserve.
  20. We welcome partnerships with those who do
    not mind seeing Nigeria and Africa assume larger
    roles in the global community.
  21. The question is not whether Nigeria is open for
    business. The question is how much of the world is
    truly open to doing business with Nigeria and
    Africa in an equal, mutually beneficial manner.
  22. Direct investment in critical industries, opening
    their ports to a wider range and larger quantity of
    African exports and meaningful debt relief are
    important aspects of the cooperation we seek.
  23. Second, we must affirm democratic
    governance as the best guarantor of the sovereign
    will and well-being of the people. Military coups
    are wrong, as is any tilted civilian political
    arrangement that perpetuates injustice.
  24. The wave crossing parts of Africa does not
    demonstrate favour towards coups. It is a demand
    for solutions to perennial problems.
  25. Regarding Niger, we are negotiating with the
    military leaders. As Chairman of ECOWAS, I seek to
    help re-establish democratic governance in a
    manner that addresses the political and economic
    challenges confronting that nation, including the
    violent extremists who seek to foment instability in
    our region. I extend a hand of friendship to all who
    genuinely support this mission.
  26. This brings me to my third crucial point. Our
    entire region is locked in protracted battle against
    violent extremists. In the turmoil, a dark channel of
    inhumane commerce has formed. Along the route,
    everything is for sale. Men, woman and children
    are seen as chattel.
  27. Yet, thousands risk the Sahara’s hot sand and
    the Mediterranean’s cold depths in search of a
    better life. At the same time, mercenaries and
    extremists with their lethal weapons and vile
    ideologies invade our region from the north.
  28. This harmful traffic undermines the peace and
    stability of an entire region. African nations will
    improve our economies so that our people do not
    risk their lives to sweep the floors and streets of
    other nations. We also shall devote ourselves to
    disbanding extremist groups on our turf.
  29. Yet, to fully corral this threat, the international
    community must strengthen its commitment to
    arrest the flow of arms and violent people into
    West Africa.
  30. The fourth important aspect of global trust and
    solidarity is to secure the continent’s mineral rich
    areas from pilfering and conflict. Many such areas
    have become catacombs of misery and
    exploitation. The Democratic Republic of the
    Congo has suffered this for decades, despite the
    strong UN presence there. The world economy
    owes the DRC much but gives her very little.
  31. The mayhem visited on resource rich areas
    does not respect national boundaries. Sudan, Mali,
    Burkina Faso, CAR, the list grows.
  32. The problems also knocks Nigeria’s door.
    Foreign entities abetted by local criminals who
    aspire to be petty warlords have drafted thousands
    of people into servitude to illegally mine gold and
    other resources. Billions of dollars meant to
    improve the nation now fuel violent enterprises. If
    left unchecked, they will threaten peace and place
    national security at grave risk.
  33. Given the extent of this injustice and the high
    stakes involved, many Africans are asking whether
    this phenomenon is by accident or by design.
  34. Member nations must reply by working with us
    to deter their firms and nationals from this 21st
    century pillage of the continent’s riches.
  35. Fifth, climate change severely impacts Nigeria
    and Africa. Northern Nigeria is hounded by desert
    encroachment on once arable land. Our south is
    pounded by the rising tide of coastal flooding and
    erosion. In the middle, the rainy season brings
    floods that kill and displace multitudes.
  36. As I lament deaths at home, I also lament the
    grave loss of life in Morocco and Libya. The
    Nigerian people are with you.
  37. African nations will fight climate change but
    must do so on our own terms. To achieve the
    needed popular consensus, this campaign must
    accord with overall economic efforts.
  38. In Nigeria, we shall build political consensus by
    highlighting remedial actions which also promote
    economic good. Projects such as a Green Wall to
    stop desert encroachment, halting the destruction
    of our forests by mass production and distribution
    of gas burning stoves, and providing employment
    in local water management and irrigation projects
    are examples of efforts that equally advance both
    economic and climate change objectives.
  39. Continental efforts regarding climate change
    will register important victories if established
    economies were more forthcoming with public and
    private sector investment for Africa’s preferred
  40. Again, this would go far in demonstrating that
    global solidarity is real and working.
  41. As I close, let me emphasize that Nigeria’s
    objectives accord with the guiding principles of this
    world body: peace, security, human rights and
  42. In fundamental ways, nature has been kind to
    Africa, giving abundant land, resources and
    creative and industrious people. Yet, man has too
    often been unkind to his fellow man and this sad
    tendency has brought sustained hardship to
    Africa’s doorstep.
  43. To keep faith with the tenets of this world body
    and the theme of this year’s Assembly, the poverty
    of nations must end. The pillage of one nation’s
    resources by the overreach of firms and people of
    stronger nations must end. The will of the people
    must be respected. This beauty, generous and
    forgiving planet must be protected.
  44. As for Africa, we seek to be neither appendage
    nor patron. We do not wish to replace old shackles
    with new ones.
  45. Instead, we hope to walk the rich African soil
    and live under the magnificent African sky free of
    the wrongs of the past and clear of their associated
    encumbrances. We desire a prosperous, vibrant
    democratic living space for our people.
  46. To the rest of the world, I say walk with us as
    true friends and partners. Africa is not a problem
    to be avoided nor is it to be pitied. Africa is nothing
    less than the key to the world’s future.
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